LETTER: Council - Why our taxes have gone up

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Local residents have contacted me, I’ve also been talking to the clerks of parish/town councils, on the issue of the increase in the parish/town council tax. Even though, there councils have put in for low or zero increase in their precept.

It’s all to do with the Council Tax Support Grant that West Lindsey District Council receives from government. The grant is to support the vulnerable in our society who find it difficult to meet their day to day needs, such as their council tax bill.

The government has reduced this grant to councils and asked councils to design a scheme that would offer some protection and welfare relief to the poor in our society.

To cushion this reduction in the grant, the government offered local councils £100m in a form of a transition grant to councils to develop schemes to protect low-income households from large Council Tax rises.

West Lindsey was 1 of 50 councils that applied for this transitional grant.

The government has instructed each local authority to decide how this reduction in the Council Tax Support Grant should be distributed.

Councils must choose between charging full council tax to the less well off in our society, in some cases, may have only paid a reduced council tax or no council tax before, or making deep cuts to local services on top of the government’s 40% cuts to council budgets. The option West Lindsey chose was to push it onto the parish/town councils.

This is where everything gets lost in the translation!

There has been a lack of clarity and proper information coming from West Lindsey regarding all this.

We were made to believe that the new scheme would not affect us at parish/town council level.

Yet, they have passed this increase onto the parish/town councils. It makes the district the good guys and parish/town councils the baddies.

In the press they have gloated on how they have kept the district part of the council tax at 0% increase.

This has been done with the help of a freeze grant given by the government to West Lindsey to hold down council tax.

It looks good on the outside but we pay for this through other taxation. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how this government works.

I would like to know how this council tax increase has been shared out among the parish/town councils?

Why has our neighbour Middle Rasen had a decrease in their council tax and Market Rasen had an increase in theirs of 7.3%.

Market Rasen was holding their precept the same as last year, we should have seen a decrease of about 2.5%. Basically we have had an increase in real terms of about 10%.

I think all this needs explaining to the people of West Lindsey. Who took the decision to burden a few councils with this increase and why were the clerks of the parish/town councils not given a detailed explanation on how this would affect the local council tax beforehand. West Lindsey is juggling too many balls in the air and they have started falling to the ground!

Thank goodness, we are unlikely to be presented with this complication next year as the Government Council Tax Support Transition Grant is expected to be ‘one off’ for 2013-14 only.

Hopefully, this large percentage increase won’t happen again as parish/town councils will be subject to the Excessive Council Tax Referendum Regulations in 2014-15. Capping I believe that means.

Market Rasen is a very small town, parish boundary wise. Most of the large new development is in Middle Rasen, yet we in Market Rasen have to provide amenities for the surrounding area.

I’ll leave you with one thought. The council tax has been set, bills have been sent out. New development is happening all the time and people are moving into these new houses.

They then start paying their council tax. Where does the parish/town portion of that council tax go? £80.74 is the town councils part of the whole precept, shall we say 50 new homes coming into the council tax, an under estimate to allow for part way through the year. 50 x £80.74 = £4037.00.

Hmmmm! It’s gone very quiet.

“Nice little earner”, as Delboy would say!

Can I just clarify a point that was made by Cllr Burt Keimach in his letter last week in the Rasen Mail, regarding double taxation?

Double taxation only occurs when a district councils off load some of their services and taxation down to parish/town councils. Parish/town councils then need to increase their precept to cover this extra cost.

The district council keeps the money that was set aside for these services and taxation. It’s call LOCALISM.

Sorry but I need to say it. Quack! Quack!

Cllr Ken Bridger

Town & District Councillor